Our Principles & Definitions



1. Climate change is the world’s most serious, all-encompassing problem

“By 2100, the United Nations says, we are due for about 4.5 degrees of warming, following the path we are on today.” – David Wallace-Wells

That is a serious problem. This is especially true considering the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that 2 degrees of warming is a benchmark of global collapse. And, even if we can keep our climate at or below 1.5 degrees of warming, will have unbelievable, ungovernable outcomes such as increased flooding, drought, food shortages, mass migration, crime, gender inequality, and more. Our largest problems are all exacerbated by climate change.

2. Everyone is a designer and can employ design strategies

de·​sign·​er: one who creates and often executes plans for a project or structure

Beyond the “classic” fields of design (graphic, industrial, systems, UI, UX, interior, etc.) lies an important reality that humans are thoughtful, deliberate creators. No matter what a person’s specialty is or field of practice, they use logic, planning, and creativity in combination to create a final, ‘designed’ product. Being a designer means having a system, either learned or self-devised, to expedite the creative combination of information to create an output. In embracing this definition, we commit to learn from one another and see each individual as a relevant contributor to a solution.

3. Thoughtful design strategies can guide efforts to curb climate change

Now, more than ever, we need people to be unafraid to challenge systems, create solutions, and raise awareness. Design strategies can be one tool in your toolbox to help achieve these goals. Design thinking, strategic design, systems design, democratized graphic design, and more are just the starting points to help enable any individual in their fight to save our planet.

4. Sustainability and human rights are intertwined

Not only does climate change exacerbate issues of societal inequalities, but also, in turn, climate change is propagated by these same issues. Continued societal injustices such as colonialism, racial inequality, gender inequality, economic inequality, mass incarceration, homophobia, and others all contribute to the defective systems that accelerate climate change. Such issues must be addressed in conjunction with our fight for climate justice.

5. Language is important

Definitions & chosen terminology

We believe it’s important to define terms clearly to reduce misunderstanding in communication. Below is a living dictionary of our terms and chosen terminology. Feel free to reach out with suggestions or comments on our contact form.

Sustainability design (chosen/preferred) – a cross-industry design principal that amplifies the necessity of ecological sustainability in systems, product, visual, or other types of creation.

This term was chosen partially due to the realistic nature that the word “sustainability” holds. It implies that the act of creation is not always carbon negative or neutral, but even so, that environmental concerns should be considered in the context of the full system and with great seriousness and urgency. It is also a cross-disciplinary term that can apply to all different professions and designers.

Reasons why this term has been chosen over the following terms:

  • Environmental design – Though this term is sometimes used cross-disciplinarily, it often largely applies to architectural projects and can create confusion when used in a broader design context.
  • Eco Design – Though this term can be used cross-disciplinarily, it does not imply urgency or the importance of systems.
  • Green Design – Though this term can be used cross-disciplinarily, it has a less serious tone and somewhat evokes a sense of “greenwashing” which is prevalent in marketing and sales groups.